Ragging at Sri Lankan Universities

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Ragging at Sri Lankan Universities
08 March
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Published in: News
  1. Ragging at Sri Lankan Universities - Past and Present
  2. Ragging a form of violence
  3. Ragging an un-civilized form of influencing toward Equality
  4. Ragging of today; Transformed From Motivation to Discourage
  5. Can Experience Justify Ragging?
  6. Violence - The Language of the Context
  7. Should Ragging Exist? If not what Alternatives?

Ragging at SriLankan Universities - Past and Present

 Shahila Siddeeque

 Read an article  on 3rd March 2014 Sunday Times about university ragging in the 1960s and it got me thinking once again how much people have deteriorated. Ragging back then was silly fun. Now it is torture that leads people to suicide. We talk about people becoming more advanced with time. Really??? To me it looks like though technology is more advanced, people's minds are shrinking and intelligence, morals, and values are diminishing fast. Just how I feel..


Ragging a Form of violence

 Ummu Hana

Ragging at universities is a form of 'Physical' and 'Psychological" violence used to build "morality" and 'equality' among freshers : how absurd!

I don't understand how we justify ragging even as a joke, being sons and daughters of diverse philosophies and religions like Buddhism, Christianity , Hinduism and Islam how can we let violent and immoral practices to build morality! Vilence will not bring non-vilennt culture. 

Ragging of today is a betrayal of our own values and believe of almost all the communities. And the justification stated for ragging as 'to shape the backwardness among those who come from remote area" not at all the way to empower the freshers.


Ragging an Un-civilized form of Influencing Toward Equality

 Ummu Hana

If we find behavioral gaps among freshers, we should identify ways to address the same through behavioral studies and empowerment mechanism and not through violence and out of the system. Today almost all the organizations have orientation programs which is the right form to get introduced in a manner that make them familiar and understand.

Isn't it shame that our higher education institution fail to establish a constructive induction program?


Ragging of Today; Transformed from motivation to discourage

 Shahila Siddeeque

The thing is, according to that article I read (check today's Sunday Times. I think it was in the Times Plus section.) ragging was seen as a "leveler", a means of showing students they were all equal. It was done in a way that both, the freshers and the seniors enjoyed it. In a way, it was part of the university spirit. One of the ladies who was interviewed said that the seniors who ragged her later became her close friends and that the ragging helped her get over her backwardness. It wasn't her exact words, but that's pretty much what she said. In that context ragging probably served as an ice-breaker of sorts, also a confidence builder for freshers. I think that as long as they were not doing anything that would hurt or humiliate anybody, it was pretty much alright. The problem is that now, what was once a harmless joke has become degrading, humiliating, sadistic, and violent abuse. In the modern context, ragging cannot be justified.


Can Experience Justify Ragging?

 Asantha Surendra 

We cannot justify it as good or bad without experiance. I had this and I did it. According to my thought it was nice experiance. But when im going to do that for my juniers it was not funny thing.

 Shahila Siddeeque

You're (Asantha Surendra) right. It is only people who experience it who can say for sure. It also depends on what they do as a rag. These days some of the things they do are really bad.

 Ummu Hana

In Sri Lankan at schools in general students are being taught through violence as the means to build discipline from kinder garden to upper grades. Therefor we don't feel offending the fellow student as some thing bad and knowingly or unknowingly we are ok with this and we tempt to justifiable based on offending experience. I am not saying everyone who are ragging are offending and using violence. But we can not deny this is not a decent induction process to a higher education institution. 


Violence - The Language of the Context

 Shahila Siddeeque

Actually, as per the regulations on child safety, teachers and parents are not supposed to punish children violently, at least in theory. I think that at present children witness a lot of violence without knowing it through the media and other means. There are many cartoons and other TV programmes that depict violence and toys and games (such as toy guns and video games) that subtly convey the idea that violence is "normal". 

There is also widespread violence through society. Given all this it seems people are becoming more and more desensitized to violence. Maybe a long time ago, people knew their limits, they knew the difference between a joke and mental and physical abuse. Now, people don't seem to know this difference any more. Given the current context yes, ragging is no longer justifiable.

Upbringing and empowering those come from remote area is different. I think we need to explore better ways to build friendship with freshers leaving violence and offending them.

Please note that I was never justifying ragging. I was just comparing how it was then and now. What I gathered from that article was that students back then were decent, respectable, and respectful and it looks like some students now, are just not. Actually, what I said about ragging being an ice breaker and confidence builder in the past is very different from formal student empowerment programmes to be done by the university.

It was an informal and unique way that students got to know each other. A form of peer interaction where lecturers or other authority figures were not involved. But these days things are very different. Seniors seem to use violence as a means of asserting authority by harming and intimidating juniors.


Should Ragging Exist? If Not, What Alternatives?

 Shahila Siddeeque

In this context all forms of ragging should be banned and treated as criminal offenses. Also as you suggest, the personality development and empowerment of students should be left entirely to the university and the lecturers. It should be done entirely through formal empowerment programmes intergrated into the curriculum and interaction between freshers and seniors should be restricted.

Of course, this may be unrealistic to a certain extent and unnecessarily rigid, but seeing the way things are going, maybe that's all that there is left to do. Also, I am just a small person. I am not and authority figure to say what should and shouldn't be done at universities. Those were just my ideas since you asked. Actually, we shouldn't wait until university to teach people how to be decent human beings. That kind of education should start at preschool and before that, in the home.

 Ummu Hana

I too Agreed with Shahila Siddeeque's suggestions above. 

The following three steps would help to come out from prevailing ragging culture which is immoral and violent behavior within higher education.

    • Make awareness among lecturers and professor who are in support ragging which is violent and immoral behavior through rev questing to sign ethical compliance annually indicating their aware of violent form of induction is unethical as per university code of ethics
    • Also request the same ethical compliance statement from students on an annual basis and introduce the ethics within university and campus as a compulsory subject 
    • Identify or invent new form of induction within students
Read 55071 times Last modified on Saturday, 08 March 2014 10:39

UmmuHana is a reformer, political analyst and social and human rights activist who writes in English and Tamil. UmmuHana contributes on various domains including Pluralism, Reform, Policy review & development and  and cultural studies.

Email: info@ummuhana.com

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